This week on Lena Waithe’s The Chi, it’s the season finale (don’t worry, it’s already been picked up for season two!), and as is want to happen in a finale, a lot of stuff gets wrapped up while a lot of other stuff gets left open. This show in particular has never shied away from Drama with a capital D, so there’s plenty of that, and more gruesome violence than we’ve seen so far. So, content warning.
We pick up where we left off last week, with Reg and Jake staring at a bloody Trice in the trunk of Reg’s car. I was worried Reg was going to make Jake kill him as a rite of passage, but I should’ve known that Reg was really just doing Q’s bidding. As in, delivering Trice to Q, in an abandoned warehouse, where Q will force out of him the story of what happened to Jason.
In a flashback, we see Jason alive for the first time- the season opened on his dead body. He’s talking to his girlfriend, for whom he’s bringing home ice cream, telling her he loves her, when he sees Trice loading approximately 6,000 guns into a van. Jason crouches behind a car and dials 911, but Trice spots him. When Jason runs away, Trice shoots him in the back. This doesn’t kill Jason right away, but as he writhes on the ground, Wallace emerges out of the pits of hell and steps on his throat to suffocate him. It’s disgusting and so hard to watch.
Q emerges from the warehouse where Reg and Jake are waiting, hands Reg a gun, and tells him to finish it. Jake tries to follow but Q keeps him outside. When they hear the gunshot, Q tells Jake he can go look if he wants, so he does. We don’t see Trice up close, but rather Jake’s face, which is full of fear, doubt, and resolve all at once.
Now that Trice is dead, Reg is the de facto boss, so he and Jake confront the crew about this. At first they’re skeptical, but Reg promises them the same amount or more money, which eases tensions. When Reg, now smiling and relaxed, asks Jake what he wants to do for the rest of the afternoon, Jake says he wants to go to the school play.
Kevin and Papa are being their usual most-endearing-kids-in-the-world selves as they prepare for the play. Walking to school, Kevin admits he’s nervous, and Papa says not to worry, he’s got his back. At school, their drama teacher asks them if they’ve talked to Jake; Papa admits that Jake is “pursuing other options in the family business.” The teacher says he might have to talk to Reg, which both Kevin and Papa warn him against, and he responds with, “I’ll take that into consideration.” This teacher has been in the show for a combined total of maybe two minutes, but it’s easy to see that he’s the best. He respects the kids and doesn’t speak down to them, but lets them know who’s in charge at the same time.
Anyway, the play is the best part of this episode because it is such a delight to watch. The kids, decked out in all the colors, dance and perform with such joy and gusto- even Kevin, who has really overcome a lot of self-consciousness this season. Jake and Reg both love it, and The Lesbians are there being adorable as usual. At the cast party, Kevin apologizes to Maisha for basically using her to get to Andrea, which he feels really bad about. She forgives him and Andrea asks him to dance- just dance, no pretense or expectations. They dance like kids: a little awkward, a little uninhibited, treading the line between childhood and adolescence. This scene was so much better than that dance scene at the end of Stranger Things where suddenly everyone was kissing and flirting in a way that felt so out of place and weirdly sexualized. But I digress.
At the end of the episode, Cruz knocks on Kevin’s door and tells one of his mothers that he needs to question Kevin about Coogie’s death, because Ronnie has confessed everything including that Kevin witnessed it. Ronnie’s scenes in this episode are heart wrenching. He confesses, gets put in jail without bond, and is systematically stripped of humanity as prisoners are: his possessions, clothes, whatever fragile sense of self or groundedness he felt on the outside. No mention of Ethel in this episode; I hope she’s ok and that she comes back next season.
Cruz, for his part, is dangling by a thread even more than I realized. He straight-up points a gun at Wallace’s head in the restroom of the POLICE STATION. But instead of shooting him, he head-butts him. Not that Wallace has much time left; Q is a brutal revenger, and after hearing Trice’s story, he lures Wallace to an empty bar that I swear is the Alibi from Shameless and slits his throat with a tiny knife. over and over. Presumably this particular method of murder was meant to mimic Wallace’s murder of Jason.
With Wallace dead, Cruz is assigned his murder case, which is maybe like a promotion of sorts? But this whole thing is convoluted and greasy.
Tracy’s storyline wraps for the season with her standing before Jason’s memorial mural; Q emerges and tells her “it’s taken care of,” which I’m guessing doesn’t make her feel much better, but also that Jason was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. While Tracy probably believed this all along, she seems comforted to know she was right, though the fact that Q is the messenger is maybe not the best.
With the news of Ronnie in jail, Laverne and Brandon are brought right back into the thick of their pain over losing Coogie, on the very day they are about to sign the papers to sell the house. Laverne decides she can’t sell it after all, that she has to stay and watch Ronnie go to trial. Brandon, Laverne, Greavy and Jerrika all come together to support each other and be supported in a really beautiful way; that is, they don’t say much, they just hug each other and sit with each other. There’s no better way to help someone through grief than to just sit with them so they don’t have to ride it out alone, and it’s refreshing to see people be there for each other in this way on TV.
Meanwhile, when Tiffany picks EJ up from Emmett at the park, he notices that she has a black eye. She won’t talk about it, just takes EJ and walks away, leaving Emmett to grapple with this new fear for his kid. He’s really evolved over the course of the season, perhaps more than any other character. He reaches out for advice from Sonny, from Jada, and finally goes over to Tiffany’s house. He hears a lot of screaming but the door is locked, so he runs around the back and busts open the back door to find EJ in his playpen while Tiffany beats up her boyfriend with a plunger. Clearly both of them have physically hurt each other, and Emmett is unable to make any other decision than what is probably the best one: grab EJ and leave.
At home, Jada, who may or may not be moving to Seattle, tells Emmett he’ll have to fight for custody, despite it being nearly impossible to win. He asks how he’ll do that, to which Jada responds, “You’ll figure it out.” And he will, because as we’ve seen, Emmett has his flaws, but he is resourceful and dedicated and he loves his kid (though I question what the deal is with his other kids).
The episode ends with a really terrible development, in my opinion. Reg shows up to Brandon’s taco truck to remind him (and me because I forgot) about how Brandon owed him for “losing” the gun Jake had given Kevin, who accidentally used it to shoot Ronnie. Reg wants to collect- the truck. He wants to “go mobile” with his business, simultaneously ruining Brandon’s dreams and wasting all of Jerrika’s box-money. Just when Brandon was on the come-up, and as if he hasn’t been through enough.
Welp, that’s the end of the season! This was a really solid first season for a show. It had a labyrinthian cast of characters, which can leave viewers a little lost in the beginning (I had to make a chart in order to be able to write these recaps), but ultimately the vast array of characters was a strength. This is a show about a specific place and the layers of humanity that define it. The show did a really good job of following story threads in a way that honored all of the characters, and made me feel invested in all of them. They even made Emmett’s 180 seem natural. I can’t wait to see where this mosaic of a show takes us next season. It had better have more of Kevin’s moms.
Thanks for following along, and please share your thoughts on the show in the comments!